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July 16, 2008 2:54 pm

Branch named head wrestling coach at UW

Written by Tribune Staff

Tom Burman, athletics director at the University of Wyoming, announced Monday that Mark Branch has been selected as the new head wrestling coach for the Cowboys.
Branch comes to Wyoming from Oklahoma State University where he was the associate head wrestling coach. He was a part of five NCAA team championships as a coach and student-athlete at OSU. As a college wrestler, Branch was a member of OSU's 1994 NCAA championship team and served on the coaching staff for OSU's 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 NCAA titles.
He provided the Cowboys from Stillwater with personal and team instruction including technique training, weight training, conditioning and nutrition. He was instrumental in the recruiting of student-athletes to Stillwater, as well as organizing fundraising projects, promotional strategies and assisting in public relation functions with student-athletes. Branch replaces Steven Suder, who coached the Wyoming Cowboys from 1989-2008.
“The hiring of Mark is exciting for the future of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling,” Burman said. “We feel his experience and passion will enable us to become a national player in the wrestling community.”

“For me, this is the realization of my goal to become an NCAA head coach,” said Branch. “I'm from a competitive background, and I was looking for a place where I could build a nationally-competitive program. I believe there is a great deal of support from the athletic department and the university as a whole at Wyoming. Wyoming is the right program for me and the right fit for me and my family. I appreciate the confidence that Tom Burman and Matt Whisenant (UW Senior Associate Athletics Director) have shown in me to get the job done.”
As a member of the OSU coaching staff, Branch was named the National Wrestling Coaches' Association (NWCA) Assistant Coach of the Year in 2004. He helped coach OSU to seven Big XII Championships, four NCAA Championships and three Dual Team Championships. He was named the associate head coach at OSU in 2002. He individually coached 31 All-Americans and nine NCAA Champions.
Branch has been a freestyle wrestling coach for the Gator Club in New Orleans, La., since 1997 where he provides personal instruction and training in freestyle wrestling. His teams have participated at various World Team training camps. He has coached at the U.S. Nationals and World/Olympic Team Trials.
As a student-athlete at OSU, Branch was a four-time NCAA All-American (1994-97), four-time NCAA National Finalist (1994-97), two-time NCAA National Champion at 167 pounds (1994 and '97) and a two-time National Freestyle All-American (1998 and '99). In 1997, he was named the Big XII Athlete of the Year, OSU Student-Athlete of the Year and the top graduating senior for OSU Wrestling. He was a four-time NWCA Academic All-American, received an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship Award and a Big XII Post-Graduate Scholarship Award.
Branch earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Oklahoma State in 1997 and earned his master of science degree in athletic administration from OSU in 2000.
“I wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for the opportunities I was given at my alma mater, Oklahoma State,” said Branch. “John Smith (head wrestling coach at Oklahoma State) gave me the opportunity to learn from him. I consider him to be the greatest coach in college wrestling. I was fortunate to be a part of the greatest program in college wrestling as a student-athlete and assistant coach with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, now I'm excited to build on the great tradition of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling.”
A native of Newkirk, Okla., he and his wife Susan have a daughter, Maggie Belle, and a son, Mason Layne.